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Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

  • Meet the Maker: Rhonda Francis of Fairy Fastener

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Rhonda Francis, one part of the triplet-Makers behind Fairy Fastener. Rhonda, Terri, and Lou put their identical problem-solving heads together to solve an everyday issue—how to put on necklaces and bracelets all by yourself. These entrepreneurial ladies call themselves the Fairies—and their jewelry clasp helpers Fairy Fasteners. We recently chatted with Rhonda to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey. 

    makers of fairy fastener Terri, Rhonda, and Lou–Makers of Fairy Fastener


    How do you get around creative blocks?
    We have been fortunate to know and be introduced to some wonderfully creative and talented people. It takes a village to raise a child, much like the creative development of an idea. We're not afraid to ask for input and guidance. It's amazing how supportive people have been.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    Build prototypes, test them. Conduct test market product reviews.

    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    That's a funny question, because our company was founded by triplet sisters. My brother always said I had a third of a brain.  :)
    I feel that the strongest traits for all three of us are, being passionate, commitment to our ideas and to each other, and accepting and embracing risk.

    meet the maker of Fairy Fastener

    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    It will be much harder then you think, but you will get past those awkward and uncomfortable moments. You can't do it alone. Choose people to take on responsibilities that are not your strengths. Don't think that you can manage every aspect of a start up. Look at the big picture and develop a solid business plan before you make large financial commitments. Know your target market and develop strategies for them.

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    I have learned more then I thought I could, would, or should. I amaze myself, my partners, and my family on my ability, tenacity, and endurance to develop a brand that my sisters and I are proud to sell. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Hope Klocker and Jules Vranian of Sweet Jules Caramels

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Hope Klocker of Sweet Jules CaramelsHope and her sister, Jules Vranian  were born into a family of culinary pros and restaurateurs, and have built one sweet business using only natural ingredients, sourced from around the world. We wanted to know more about Hope's journey as an business owner and what advice she has for those just starting out on their own entrepreneurial journey. 

    Meet the Maker of Sweet Jules Caramels

    Ho do you get around creative roadblocks?
    Caramel as a base is receptive to an endless number of flavors so we really don’t have blocks with creativity. Our problem is more what “not” to make! We make caramels in a dozen flavors now.

    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You need to know what your ingredients have to offer in flavor, texture, and smell. Apply creativity and expert technique when those qualities speak to you.

    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Will Carswell of Zen Art Puzzles

    commenter_zenWhen you think of puzzles, you think of 1,000 pieces, finding the corners, and taking hours to complete it. Zen Art Puzzles buck the traditional stereotypes. Each puzzle is laser cut from premium birchwood here in America. They're just a few hundred pieces and you can try to find the corner pieces, but there may be six of them. With piece designs ranging from traditional jigsaw to moose silhouette, Zen Art puzzles give you an imaginative way to relax.

    Will Carswell, one of 23 puzzle makers in the U.S. talks about the intricacies of each puzzle and the care he and his company put into each piece of his business from manufacturing in America to using eco-friendly materials for each product.


    To learn more about Zen Art Puzzles and to purchase, click here.

  • Meet the Maker: Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Mo Seetubtim of The Happiness Planner. Happiness is what most of us want more of. And Mo made a daily planner that doesn’t just focus on ticking off a to-do list. It helps you find the good in the everyday. Hear Mo on how she handles creative blocks and how her happiness-boosting business has grown.

    Meet the Maker of The Happiness Journal

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    Sometimes you try so hard to figure out an idea, but it wouldn't come out and then you have a "bing" moment when you're in the shower! This has happened way too many times that I don't stress over creative blocks anymore. I know when it comes, it comes.
    I also use Evernote to take notes–shower notes, stuck-in-traffic notes, insomnia notes. Then, I can look back to those ideas again when I feel like I'm ready to start writing or working on the project.
    Usually I would go on the internet and search for articles related to what I want to write about or design. Reading different articles and seeing other people's point of view usually give me an idea to a certain extent. I'd jot down the key points that I like and I would ponder upon them later so I could extend on those points.  If by that point, I still feel stuck, I would go for a walk, hit the gym, play the piano, or just go get some food from a cafe I've never been to before.
    I don't try to force myself out of creative blocks much. Usually when you're stressed and busy, it's hard to let your creative juices come out. You just wait until you relax and the light bulb moment will come on unexpectedly.
    Best creative advice that you ever received?
    You have to have one single core idea or message. That's one big thing I learned in advertising. You can't tell people that your product is good for A, B, E, H, M, S, and Z. You have to tell your customers that your product is good for A and expand on the A point to A1, A2, A3. At least in one ad, there needs to be only ONE key message or core idea. Otherwise you confuse the customers and they don't remember what you truly stand for.
    happiness journal
    What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Determined, creative, strategic.
     I've always been very determined since little. If you ask my parents to describe a trait I possess, they'd say "determination" (I actually asked them that last time I was home). I've always been a high achiever since back in kindergarten. Being self-actualized makes me happy. I set high goals for myself to achieve and I almost always achieve them. I'm very focused and determined. And I know the value of hard work  and the power of one's willpower and focus. These have proven to me so many times that if I pour all of my heart and soul into something, it will come out however amazing I want it to be. But if I half-heartedly do something, the outcome might be mediocre and not pleasing.  Though, I cope with disappointments well and take them as lessons. My point is if you want to succeed in something great, you have to be very determined.
    Creative. I always think about how I and my brand could be different. Differentiation is key to everything–getting your brand and message out there, getting recognized, and becoming liked. You can't attract others or stand out if your product or your brand looks like everything else out there because then you're just another X brand. You need to be creative with the attributes of your brand–from functionality to aesthetics.
    Strategic. I am pretty strategic in my thinking (both in life and business). In life, that is what helps me turn life experiences into wisdoms (which I then pass onto our readers/customers). In business, I always think strategically about the industry, the market, the brand, and the customers. What do/did the other brands do that help them become successful? What are their marketing and business strategies? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we do something different and become superior? Strategy is when you think one or two steps ahead of the game.
    Meet the Maker Mo Seetubtim Quote
    What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
    Find your unique value proposition. A lot of people start a business just because they think it's a nice idea. A nice idea doesn't sell and doesn't last. You need to do something that you are truly good at and are absolutely passionate about. What is it that you are so uniquely good at that others can't compete with you? For me, it's my words of wisdom and my vision in life . I've always wanted to inspire people since I was little, to live a life of passion and purpose–it's the ethos behind our brand and our story. It will always be there. The way I think is ... uniquely the way I think. My voice is uniquely my voice. I have found my unique talents and I then mastered them and turned them into my calling that becomes the service I offer to the world. Find your unique talents and turn them into your unique value proposition.
    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    That if you create something that truly adds value to people's lives, your business will sell in itself. I never put much effort into advertising. Of course, we have content (blog posts and quotes) which you can say we use content marketing, but the content has been there way long before I started selling The Happiness Planner. I started writing those blog posts several years before I had the business idea. So it's very authentic. I didn't write those articles to sell something. I wrote them specifically because I wanted to share my words of wisdom and the lessons I learned in life. So it surprises me how well The Happiness Planner has been received given that I haven't done much advertising. And it's because The Happiness Planner truly adds value to people's lives so people want to tell their friends and family about it and recommend those they love to use it too. 
    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    10 years ago I was only 18. I just finished high school and was about to move to Australia. I would probably tell myself not to worry too much. You can make your dreams come true. There's no need to rush. Go one step at the time. You'll get there when the time is right. I was such an ambitious kid and I wanted to accomplish so much in life. But sometimes when you're young and are just starting out, you can be confused and not sure about the path you're taking - you might even be getting a lot of No's and face closed doors. It's okay to remember that even though a No always seems bad at the time, it's just a part of life. The right door will open when you find it. Just keep walking and learning more about what you're passionate and becoming the best at what you're good at. If you want to be successful, you have to be the best in your field. So keep building on your strengths and innate talents. 

    To learn more about The Happiness Planner, watch our video here.

  • Packaging Design Tips for Your New Product

    New consumer products are entering the market at an increasingly rapid rate. Thanks to crowdfunding platforms and the accessibility and affordability of prototyping, it’s never been easier to launch a product.

    What most entrepreneurs don’t realize is that after the PR and sales high of crowdfunding or initial run of success wears off, sales typically slow. If you find yourself at this point, it’s time to start planning for “what’s next.”

    Packaging Design

    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Loree Sandler of Let Them Eat Candles

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Loree Sandler of Let Them Eat Candles. Loree Sandler invented something even better than birthday cake–edible candles. After testing hundreds of prototypes, she finally came up with the winning chocolate design. Her favorite part of building a business? All of it. Loree has a hand in every aspect–from cutting wicks to tempering chocolate (she even labels and ships out each box). 


    Tell us more about your design inspiration.
    I’m inspired by fine craftsmanship and simplicity–for instance Shaker tools and furniture, and Georg Jensen jewelry. Paradoxically, I’m drawn to “outsider” artists who create obsessively layered work. I’m inspired by nature, by clever use of materials, by innovators (I’m heartbroken by the recent death of architect Zaha Hadid). Also, I love things that are unexpectedly graphic or quirk–I collect painted game boards and hangers.

    What other things do you love to make?
    I’ve dabbled with ceramics, hot glass beads, and letterpress. I love to bake and knit.

    Edible Candles

    What has surprised you most about starting a business?
    The cliché: ‘It’s not personal, it’s business,’ is entirely false for me. Every last detail from concept to creation is my work: cutting wicks, tempering chocolate, labeling boxes, and shipping product. Each decision is mine, successes and mistakes alike. How is this not personal? Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Britta Cox of Aquis

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Britta Cox of Aquis. Britta leaned on her experience in fitness apparel and performance fabric to create a unique material that changes the way you dry your hair. Her product, Aquis, absorbs moisture without getting water-logged. 

    Meet the Maker of Aquis

    Tell us more about your design inspiration.

    I think I’m more of a creative thinker than an artist. I’m ever curious and observant and find inspiration from making connections in the world. I get pleasure from being resourceful and finding solutions. I grew up on a ranch where you learned how to figure things out, to use your hands, fix things, make things and to be observant. At a young age I interacted a lot with animals which instills instincts in you that can be used in many aspects throughout your life.

    What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
    You need competent and committed people to help you grow the business. Identify your core strengths and also your blind spots and then seek the right people, people and attitudes that will supplement your capabilities. Give them the canvas and the inspiration to deliver their best. Focus on executing what delivers real value rather than what feels good to you and create narrative in the process. For us entrepreneurs it is easy to get off track. We start a business because we are passionate about something, but you must start with your end goal and work backwards.

    Meet the Maker - Aquis Towel

    What three personality  traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
    Strong work ethic; Innate desire to be of high integrity; Level headed and able to juggle many things even under challenging conditions. Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker: Kat Nouri of Stasher

    In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

    Today, we're catching up with Kat Nouri of Stasher. Frustrated with single-use plastic baggies, Kat decided to create an eco-friendly alternative—and now those one-use bags are a thing of the past.

    Meet the Maker Stasher

    What did you want to be when you grew up?
    I wanted to be a nurse, an artist, a farmer, an attorney–some for a minute, some for months. I changed my mind several times as I was growing up. But what I remember the most, was that my Mom was super passionate about her pursuit. She could never stop working because her work was her passion. As a result, her work was very much a part of who she was, and she did it whole hardheartedly. My Mom is a PHD in nutrition, with a spiritual upbringing. That became a part of our DNA. When I was a bit older I realized how lucky my Mom was that she was passionate about her work. If you are going to spend a good portion of your life at work, well you better love it or it's just not sustainable. I tried to follow that path and always encourage my kids to be true to themselves, and they will automatically be successful by knowing and feeling that their time is well spent on where they want to be.

    How do you get around creative blocks?
    I step away. I am a huge advocate of work/life balance. That is hard as I actually obsessively love what I do. I have to make myself not look at emails, Instagram, snapchat, to the point that I exhaust myself. But I am successful at shutting down, as I have three kids and a husband who always keeps me in check for our family balance. I love to play hard, as much as I like to work hard. When I do get away I have a lot of fun enjoying local food and culture. We live in Oakland, one of the most inspirational places in the country. The food, and the diversity in culture is amazing. I guess you could say, I can kick my creative block by just walking around the lake, and stopping at exceptional local eats with friends. There is abundant art from super cool Independent artists, music, and the weather is amazing most of the year.

    Meet the Maker of Stasher
    Continue Reading

  • Meet the Maker Podcast: Graham Wasilition of Chateau Spill


    Graham Wasilition is an entrepreneur to the bone. With his engineering background, the Austin, Texas native co-founded a liquor distillery company then co-founded Château Spill, the red wine, grass, blood, dirt and every-other-kind-of-stain remover. He continues to run them both. I catch up with him at the Las Vegas Market trade show where he was exhibiting Château Spill with our Wholesale team.

    Graham discusses the balance it takes to run not only one company but two, the exhilaration he experiences being on the road meeting customers, the daily challenges of running a business, and the exciting future he sees for Château Spill.


    Like what you hear? Listen to the rest of the Meet the Maker Podcast series here then rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes

  • How to Raise an Entrepreneur: 3 Makers Share Their Stories

    With the era of working for a single company for 40 years—and then receiving a pension when you retire— generally behind us, the word “entrepreneur” has started commonly referring to the many who start small businesses, become consultants or freelancer.

    It inevitably raises the question, “What makes an entrepreneur? Is it nature, nurture, or both? Can parents raise their children to be entrepreneurs?”

    As the father of two teenage children—and at the start of a new school year—I have an interest. What will my kids’ future look like? What will make them the happiest when they embark on a 50+ year work career?

    In my lifetime I’ve known a number of entrepreneurial folks, but there wasn’t anyone around them to encourage it—or, worse yet, people around actively discouraged their entrepreneurial thinking.

    Colleges and universities now have educational tracks to try to teach it. National organizations—like Kauffman and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship http://www.nfte.com—address how to foster young entrepreneurs.

    The Grommet recently launched three products developed by the under 18 set (you can find more of them in our Underrepresented Entrepreneurs category). We wanted to know, what did these kids’ parents do to help them—and what did the children find most helpful as they became entrepreneurs?

    Kid Entreprenuers


    Teenager Robin Sydney and her mom, Marian Heymsfield, recently launched their Adult Coloring Posters coloring poster set on The Grommet. Robin and Marian color together to take a break from electronics and relax at the end of the day. They created detailed posters to encourage more people to get creative and unwind.

    Mom Marian says, “Inspiring confidence is the most important. That and the understanding that what you do in creating items is important and helpful to both the consumer and the Retailer. That your role is very important to everyone’s success.”

    “My mom always inspired me to be who I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do,” says daughter Robin. “When it came to creativity, I always had art projects, did coloring contests, and had craft kits all over my room. I loved it. We didn’t really watch TV and the arts was my true outlet.

    “Robin continues, “My mom made sure to give confidence to my sister and I, so we would know that we could do anything we dreamed of—no matter the challenge. When we started our company, through her inspiration to me, I felt like I could do anything. I then instilled the same confidence she had placed in me in her and she realized that she, too, could do anything. My mom’s creativity sprouted. There are so many times my mom says, ‘I can't believe what we are doing together.’ It is so cool!”

    “Honestly, I think in our situation my daughter was the parent in the teaching role and I was the child learning from her!” says Marian.

    “I love working with my mom. I trust her completely. I am the dreamer and she is the realist. I say, ‘We should do this...’ and she is like, ‘Yeah, but…’ Together, it is perfection. Each of us comes up with ideas and together we work to make it feel perfect for both of us. We represent both the mom and the kid when approaching products. I think it makes it perfect for all ages and generations.” Continue Reading

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